The Art Business Today: Key Market Concerns

In our last blog, we looked at the key sectors you should be keeping an eye on in the art world this coming year. It’s now time to focus on the bigger picture of the art market by looking at Brexit, authenticity and forgery, conservation and price data – based off our findings at the London Art Fair 2017.

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The Conservation of Contemporary Art

This is an extremely crucial area of the art market that is not receiving the recognition that is not only deserves but demands. Contemporary art is often quite new and so it is a common belief that it does not require the same attention in terms of care as the old masters. However, collectors could not be more mistaken. By keeping the art in as new a state as possible, it will significantly increase the value of the piece down the line. There’s a lot of new and unusual materials that are being used, such as acrylic paint that has a much shorter life span than that of oils. It is absolutely essential collectors are aware of what is going into the art they collect and to withhold value-led judgements, as this can spoil the art.


It is important for every collector to consider where their art is coming from. There is a range of issues around the source of art work, such as pieces being exploited and stolen from the wars in the Middle East, and then brought to market for unsuspecting buyers. It’s key to consider the ethics behind where the art comes from, as it only takes one person not to be ethical for it to all go wrong. It’s currently very risky to buy cultural items, and is not as valuable as some people are claiming.

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The ability to authenticate art is developing at an extremely pleasant pace. Sotheby’s has just bought a scientific research business which will be a huge source of support when it comes to legal cases. For example, in court, Sotheby’s will have scientists at the ready who will be identify issues such as whether a certain type of paint existed in a certain era and provide relevant data to create more reliability for the auction house and its pieces. The better the scientific research gets, the more the game will change. In the past year there’s been a trend towards active collection management and for collectors to really understand the pieces they really have. This trend will grow alongside the development of scientific research.

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London is an international hub for art and is going to become a tax haven which is a very powerful thing. However, it is difficult to navigate. The UK auctions benefited last year when the pound became weaker, and this may continue. If corporation tax reduces then we can expect to see big auction houses come to London and bidding may get extremely competitive.

Market Transparency

Art is set to be more commoditized in the coming future, and people are growing ever more curious about market data and prices. A new app called Magnus allows users to point their smart phone at artwork and the app will present information about the art and its price. However, this app has been shut down. There is an element of mystery behind art market prices, and auction prices only tell half the story. There are so many price databases that people do not know about, and demand would be significantly affected if they knew how to access it. Therefore, the market will not become more transparent, sorry folks.

Art Business

So there we have it, everything you need to know about the art business today. We hope that you’ve found this information useful and wish you happy buying, collecting and selling for the coming year.

Related blogs:

The Art Business Today: Key Sectors for 2017

The 2016 Art and Antiques Trade: New Threats to An Old Profession

Highlights from the London Art Fair 2017

About the Author:

Maryke wrote about luxury asset trends for Borro Private Finance.